Age UK has launched a campaign to ask the Prime Minister to ‘fix care for good’ after a new report found in the last year over 700,000 requests for care and support made by the elderly were turned down.
This is equivalent to 2,000 claims being unsuccessful each day, or 80 every hour. Age UK’s new analysis also reveals 1.5 million over 65s in England are going without help to carry out at least one essential task and this is continuing to rise.
Over 55,000 have signed the Make Care Fair petition to ensure parents, grandparents, as well as future generations, can access care which is free, fair and available to everyone when they need it to grow old with dignity.
’Real suffering is going on, with older people’s lives being diminished’
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK's charity director said: “The Prime Minister has promised to fix social care and our new report shows why it’s so vital for our older population that he keeps his word. For some, tragically, it is already too late. “The fact that 2,000 older people are being turned down for care every day demonstrates both the enormous numbers impacted by our ramshackle care system and how serious the problems it faces have now become. “One result is this vast number of older people whose applications for help are rejected and another the long waits for an assessment to have your case looked into at all. Our report is heart-rending stories of older people in need who are being comprehensively let down, and the nightmarish situations created for them and their families. Real suffering is going on, with older people’s lives being diminished and, in some cases, we fear, being cut short.”
Last year, over 35,000 elderly people and their families called Age UK’s information and advice line concerning social care. These calls describe very difficult experiences people are going through as they try to secure the help with everyday tasks like washing, eating and toileting.
’We don’t know what happens to these older people - some have no choice but to struggle alone’
The Age UK advice line is always receiving calls from people struggling.
They were recently called by Jim's family about Jim who is over 100 and recently had a fall. Jim has been moved to a local care home for his safety that his family are funding. When Jim fell, they contacted their local adult social services team who advised that a needs assessment for Jim would happen within the week.
Jim’s son has subsequently received a call from the social services team to tell him Jim’s needs assessment will not be carried out for another month and that the family would have to continue funding his care or find alternative arrangements, both of which are unsustainable for his family to arrange.
In another case, Agnes, who has Alzheimer’s disease, has needed more help over the last few months with personal care and has become increasingly agitated and distressed when care home staff support her with this. The care home has told Agnes’ daughter, that they can no longer meet her mother’s needs.
Her daughter has found it very difficult to find another home that will agree to accommodate her mother. She found one that seemed promising, but they will not take Agnes without a new assessment from social services, who have stated that they will not be able to assess her mum for several months, long after her notice to leave her current home comes into force.
Ms Abrahams said: “We don’t know what happens to these older people whose applications are rejected but inevitably some have no choice but to struggle on alone. Good social care helps to keep older people fit and well, so if you are forced to go without it’s a recipe for emerging health problems to turn into crises, possibly leading to a hospital stay that might otherwise have been avoided and a decline in your health from which you may never fully recover.”
Age UK is highlighting the battle elderly people and their families face to secure social care
Age UK state between 2010 and 2019 total spending on adult social care fell by £86 million. While spending has now largely recovered from its lowest point in 2014/15, the older and disabled population has significantly increased, meaning social care spending per head of the adult population has fallen by six per cent over the same time period.
Age UK is highlighting the battle older people and their families often face in trying to secure social care. In ‘Behind the Headlines: Battling to get care’, the charity describes the social care system as being “woefully inadequate for the job now required of it, despite the best efforts of the good people working in it.”
Ms Abrahams said: “Faced with too much demand and too little supply, our social care system is effectively under siege. Councils do their best with the resources they have but there are simply not enough to go around.”